Welcome to the busy and productive nest of the famous hummingbird known as Phoebe Allens from Orange County, southern California.
UNFORTUNATELY, PHOEBE DISAPPEARED on APRIL 12th 2014. CHICKS were TAKEN UNDER REHABILITATION. This nestcam page is now maintained as a memorial for this most industrious hummingbird. You can watch other active webcams here.
Since 2007 this nesting location has created a web-frenzy of natural history lovers from all over the world and formed a community of citizen scientists. Real-time observations not only documented breeding activity of an indigenous non-migratory bird species in great detail but also led to rare observations such as egg predation by lizards and crows. You can watch a short clip of a predation attempt by a lizard recorded on March 16th 2010 at the bottom of this post.
Phoebe laid her first egg on 10th of December 2013. Here’s the moment first egg was laid in nest:
Last season unfortunately one of the second eggs didn’t hatch. It may have been one of those unfertilized eggs. The unhatched egg was replaced by an orphaned chick named “Pip”. Pip was orphaned when its nest was accidentally pruned. The mother bird was scared and flew away never to comeback. You can watch how Pip was placed into the nest in the following video:
There’s no way of knowing whether this female is indeed the same female nesting since 2007. She doesn’t carry a ring. However there’s a high possibility that she is the same bird. Studies done on ringed hummingbirds have shown that they can live up to 12 years. According to Karl Schuchmann, an ornithologist at Germany’s Alexander Koenig Zoological Institute and the Brehm Fund, a captive hummingbird lived for 17 years. In 2010, PBS Nature released an outstanding documentary called “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air”. It is a must see prerequisite for a citizen scientist.
Hummingbirds have extremely energetic lives. Only females are involved in parental care and lay 4-5 clutches during the 7 month breeding season between late october and may. Normally each clutch has two eggs. It takes about 17 days for eggs to hatch and the chicks fledge at about 21-28 days afterwards. You can see Phoebe’s entire breeding history here.
Plumage pattern of Selasphorus sassin subs. sedentarius is quite different from that of the migratory species where only males have the distinct speckled gorget on their throat. In this species females also have a red patch of plumage.
Nature Documentaries has been paying attention to a number of live webcams including red-tailed hawk cams of Cornell University and New York University who migrate away during winter. Phoebe’s activities will fill the gap during this dormant period.
The following video shows a predation attempt by a lizard. Phoebe defends her nest aggressively and puts up an impressive fight and manages to chase the lizard away. She then removes one of the eggs from her nest. The chick in that egg failed to hatch (you can notice a tiny hole on the shell) and the smell began to attract predators posing a great danger.